It’s a crappy feeling when you leave your office feeling drained, exhausted and unproductive after a full day of work. If you feel like you’re putting in the time but not seeing the results, here are a few easy tricks to rethink your morning routine and be more productive.
- Do the hardest task first
Sorting through emails or responding to funny company chats might be a lot more fun than a complex project involving spreadsheets and brainpower. However, pushing your hardest project to the end of the day often forces you to stay late to finish and takes a lot out of you right before you leave for the night.
Instead, start with your hardest project and get it out of the way first thing in the morning. You will have projects to look forward to later in the day and will leave work in a better mood.
- Set SMART goals
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of projects on your plate, start by writing one SMART goal at the beginning of each day. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-oriented. For example, pretend you are a wedding planner who has just been hired for a party. Let’s try using the SMART framework to set one goal for the day:
- Specific: What needs to be done? I need to book a wedding venue.
- Measurable: How will I know it meets expectations? Is there a standard I can use to evaluate my success such as price, frequency, quantity, etc? I will find three possible options that are available on the requested date and within the specified price range.
- Achievable: Can this project be done in the time I have booked? I will not be able to have a signed contract by the end of the day. However, I can use today to find venues I like online and reach out to set up tours for the couple.
- Relevant: Is this project important? The venue will dictate all other details, and is therefore the first step to begin planning.
- Time-Oriented: When will this project be due? I will have three possible options by the end of the day.
Goal for the day: I will set up three tours for the couple by the end of the day at venues that fit their criteria, are available for their wedding date, and are within their price range.
A project management tool such as Redbooth can be used to keep track of your to-do list, so that any updates to other projects can quickly be logged while you focus on your main goal.
- Take a real lunch break
It may seem counterproductive to take a full hour away from your desk. However, your brain needs this time to recharge. Log out of your email, put your smart phone away and ask a coworker to lunch. Even if you bring lunch you can still take the hour to find a scenic spot to eat or digest with a walk through the park.
Work from home or want to find new people in your area to meet for lunch? Try a networking app like Shapr, which will introduce you to nearby professionals with similar interests who are also interested in expanding their networks. Taking an hour to meet someone new for coffee will help you unplug and have a conversation not focused around your project deadlines. If you’re seeking outside feedback on your project, it may also be a valuable conversation to get your creative juices flowing and see your project through new eyes!
- Turn off social media notifications
Unless you run your company’s Twitter account, you do not need notifications turned on. There is nothing more distracting than a popup on your phone informing you that you’ve been tagged in a photo from last night. Go ahead, take out your phone and turn off those distracting notifications.
Instead, take actual breaks during the day to step away and check your feed. Just like taking a lunch break, you will give your brain a break and will feel less tempted to check individual notifications as they happen.
- Say no
Research from the University of California in San Francisco showed that stress and burnout rates were higher for people who never say no. It’s okay to turn down a project or ask for more time. Be clear in your availability as well as why you can’t take on additional work. Here’s one positive response you can offer:
“I am currently focusing my energy on [current goal]. How about we get lunch next Thursday to discuss that project?”
When you focus your to do list, set SMART goals, take real breaks, and say no once in a while, you will suddenly have more time and energy as well as feeling like you are getting more things done.
What are your tips for getting more done in a day?
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